Skip to comments.Incredible Raw Image of Saturnís Swirling North Pole (Saturn's Enigmatic Swirling Hexagon)
Posted on 11/28/2012 10:32:10 AM PST by lbryce
Are you ready for this?
I know WOW.
This swirling maelstrom of clouds is what was seen over Saturns north pole earlier today, November 27, by NASAs Cassini spacecraft. This is a raw image, acquired in polarized light, from a distance of 238,045 miles (383,097 kilometers) all I did was remove some of the hot pixels that are commonly found on Cassini images taken with longer exposures.
My attempt at a color composite can be seen below, plus another treat:
Its rough, and a little muddy because the clouds were moving between image channels (not to mention the blue channel image was rather underexposed) but heres a color-composite of the same feature, made from images taken from a slightly different perspective:
Color composite of Saturns north polar vortex
Pretty darn cool Cassini does it yet again!
The images above show an approximately 3,000-4,000-km-wide cyclone above Saturns north pole. Saturn is also known to have a long-lived hexagonal jet stream feature around its north pole as well, but that is not shown in those images as it runs along a lower latitude. Instead, you can see that HERE:
Saturns northern hexagon
Captured with wider angle in this image the hexagon structure can be made out as well as the vortex, which sits at the center just over the pole. Saturns hexagon is about 25,000 km (15,500 miles) in diameter large enough to fit almost four Earths inside. This image was also acquired today.
An RGB composite of this feature is below:
Saturns northern hexagon color composite
Its been a few years since weve gotten such a good look at Saturns north pole
thanks to Cassinis new orbital trajectory, which is taking it high above the ring plane and poles of Saturn, we now have the opportunity to view the gas giants dynamic upper latitudes again. Im sure this is just a taste of whats to come!
That's about the distance from the earth to the moon.
Thanks for the post, marvelous photos.
Any idea what the wind speeds are?
Isen’t MY G*D AWESOME!
Has there been any theorizing on the mechanism that is creating a standing hexagonal wind flow pattern at the North Pole?
I could’ve sworn I saw the Monolith at the left edge of the third picture.
probably only permanent in the sense of thousands of years. 20 yrs is nothing to the gas giant.
I would have to agree. Technically speaking you are correct.
Rephrased, I would say, the Hexagon had more permanence than what was first thought.
Very cool images! Thanks!
Incredible Raw Image of Saturns Swirling North Pole (Saturn's Enigmatic Swirling Snowflake)
Thanks lbryce, an ‘extra, extra’ to APoD members.
I saw a video, I believe it was on Science channel, that showed scientists swirling liquids at high speeds in a large, clear vat. They put numerous coloring compounds of different densities in it and managed to form a hexagon around the pole much the same way it is seen here.
I believe it’s due to Saturn’s rotation and the differences in atmospheric densities and wind speeds that cause this very cool-looking feature.
Then there are the twin vortices on Venus' south pole.
Venus has breasts.
I think I see Obama swimming around at about the third level....you can spot him by his tail.
Saturn’s North Pole Hexagon Mystery Solved?
Prompted by your queue, I did a web search using the words “science channel liquid hexagon” and came up with a YouTube video of an Oxford Univerity experiment illustrating the process:
That’s the one! My apologies for any misinformation. I knew it existed, I just couldn’t exactly recall where I saw it.
Thanks very much for mentioning the twin vortices on Venus. I’ve never heard of it until now.
Thanks Red Badger!
thanks, two minute video:
The southern polar vortex on Venus
Date: 07 Apr 2011
Satellite: Venus Express
Depicts: South Pole of Venus
Copyright: ESA/VIRTIS-VenusX/INAF-IASF/LESIA-Obs. Paris/Univ. Lisbon/Univ. Evora (D. Luz, Univ. Lisbon & D. Berry, Univ. Evora)
This animation is a reconstruction of the motion of the polar atmosphere of Venus, created by taking 3.8 micron radiance maps of the polar region, obtained during May 2007, and applying a shift (a rotation and translation) to the image based on the measured wind speeds.
The cross marks the South Pole and the white circle marks the centre of rotation of the polar atmospheric vortex. The outer edge of the figure is the latitude circle of 75 degrees.
Date: 07 Apr 2011
Satellite: Venus Express
Depicts: Southern polar vortex on Venus
Copyright: ESA/VIRTIS-VenusX/INAF-IASF/LESIA-Obs. de Paris (G. Piccioni, INAF-IASF)
This image sequence shows thermal infrared radiation (at a wavelength of 3.8 microns) emitted by the cloud-tops at the southern polar region of Venus, as viewed by the VIRTIS imaging spectrometer on Venus Express. The scale has been inverted: white regions show cooler cloud, likely to be at higher altitude.
Related article: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=48596
Video Editing: Marco De Marco